When people first start writing online, they think “going viral” is the goal.
- “My entire life will change if I can get 1,000,000 views.”
- “Going viral means I am a successful writer.”
- “Once my writing catches fire, I won’t need to write as much. I can relax.”
In reality, when it comes to beating the game of online writing, the winning strategy is the complete opposite.
Over the past seven years (since I started writing daily on Quora back in 2014), I have had more than 300 articles “go viral.” How I define “viral” is a piece that accumulates more than 250,000 views in a compressed time frame — usually 48 hours or so. Of those ~300 viral hits, 50 crossed 500,000 views in 24–48 hours, with another 10 or so accumulating anywhere from 500k to 1M+ views.
And every time, the result was the same:
For a few days, I saw all my stats go up by a factor of ten — followers, reach, engagement, shares, etc. And then at the end of the virality cycle, all my stats would return back to average. If I went viral on a Friday, come Monday morning, I was right back to being “just another writer” on the internet.
Which is why I tell other writers: going viral isn’t the goal.
1,000,000 views is cool, but it’s temporary.
The goal is to build a lasting library that builds your “average” over time. More than “going viral” in a 24–48 hour period, what you really want is to write content than consistently generates attention over long periods of time — not just 1M views in 48 hours.
If you happen to go viral, cool. Enjoy it.
But then get right back to the daily discipline of writing and publishing.
Consistency is what separates you from the one-hit wonders.
This is an Atomic Essay from the Ship 30 for 30 daily writing challenge.